Understanding The Stages Of Grief & Loss

Grief and loss is a very difficult time for children, teens, adults and families. All people grieve differently and go through the stages of grief in a different order. Some people might not experience a specific emotion (anger or sadness) that they feel they should be feeling. Everyone grieves at their own pace and you have to let it run its course. Some people are re-triggered during certain times of the year (holidays),  by listening to a particular song, movie, or anything that reminds you of your loved one. It is okay to feel this way during these times. Just because it has been 5 years since a love one passed away, doesn't mean you shouldn't still go through phases where you grieve.

Being educated about the stages of grief can help you understand the emotions you are experiencing. What you are experiencing is very real and can be challenging to cope with at times. The goal is for you to be mindful about the thoughts and feelings you are experiencing and learn the tools to help you healthfully manage your thoughts and feelings.

Stages of Grief (Kubler-Ross)

1. Denial & Isolation: The first reaction is to isolate yourself and deny the fact that a love one has passed away. It is difficult to experience such deep emotions so our defense mechanism is to numb the pain by denying the reality of our loss.

2. Anger: As denial starts to wear off, some individuals may start to feel angry that the loved one is not around. They may feel angry at the deceased depending on their life's circumstances. It is okay to feel angry but you have to be able to identify when your anger is out of control and negatively impacting your life and relationships.

3. Bargaining: Feelings of helplessness and vulnerability start impacting our thoughts. We may think, "if we had gotten medical attention sooner then the person wouldn't be gone," or "if I was a better daughter, my dad wouldn't have passed away." Some individuals may try to make a deal with a higher power to bargain that they don't let your love one pass away or ask them to trade places with the deceased.

4. Depression: feelings of sadness and regrets in relation to the loss. Wishing you had more time with your loved one may cause feelings of sadness. Having moments of crying when thinking about your loved one is all a normal grief reaction.

5. Acceptance: reaching this stage is a blessing in the grieving process. Not everyone reaches this stage and may get stuck in the denial, anger or depression stages. Death can be one of the most challenging things to accept. Accepting that your loved one is gone comes with various emotions. Some people feel guilty that they have accepted the death. The goal of the grieving process is to keep the good memories of the deceased alive.

Coping with loss varies for each individual and is a difficult process. Reach out to your family and friends if you need their support. If you feel like you are struggling with grief and loss challenges, Life Balance Counseling in Schaumburg can help. To learn more information about grief counseling, click here. Please call our office at 888.234.7628.